On Sunday, the executive council of the Democratic Party voted in favor of dismissing its chairman, 9 members of the steering committee and its secretariat, and 11 heads of party regional offices following their vote to dismiss PD leader Lulzim Basha in a national convention called by his predecessor Sali Berisha earlier.
In an emergency meeting called by Basha, 257 of the 485 executive council members showed up and 251 voted in favor of his proposal to dismiss party officials from their posts, according to an announcement by the secretary of the voting process.
Their dismissal from party duties was based on Basha and the steering committee’s proposal who maintain that the officials violated the party statute by participating in a convention that dismissed both the leader and the steering committee.
The convention was called by about 5 000 of its 7600 members and was held on Saturday. More than 4400 members voted to dismiss the current leadership of the party, including the leader Basha, and called for new elections.
The decision on Basha must be ratified by party members in a referendum called for next Sunday.
Basha and the current leadership have maintained that the convention is illegal and its decisions are null and void.
Democratic Party of Albania has been plagued by an internal struggle following the controversial decision by Basha to oust former leader Berisha from the party’s parliamentary group. Berisha was banned from entering the US by the State Department on allegations of corruption, during the 8 years he served as Albania’s prime minister between 2005 and 2013.
He has maintained that his ban is the result of lobbying by his opponent, current Prime Minister Edi Rama, and George Soros, who is a friend of Rama.
The ban was received with suspicion by many party members and others, who have not seen any move by the US against the current government, which is widely perceived to be corrupt and involved in significant scandals.
Berisha has capitalized on this perception and has rallied party members in an effort to oust the current leadership. Apparently, he has the support of the majority of the party’s national convention and the party base.